An outlandishly eventful 24 hours unfolds from the point of view of Woody (the impressive Michael Rainey Jr.), an 11 year old boy growing up in Baltimore under his grandmother's watchful eye. His dapper Uncle Vincent (Common) offers to drive Woody to school one day, then impulsively changes his mind to bring the boy along on his day's big errands. Vincent wants to teach Woody how to be a man, which involves wearing a tailored suit, cracking crab shells, making eye contact while shaking hands, learning to drive a car and firing a gun.
John Henry Summerour's award-winning film Sahkanaga opens tonight for a one-week theatrical run in Atlanta's Plaza Theatre, and Brooklyn's ReRun Theater. Shot and set in the Georgia town where the filmmaker grew up, Sahkanaga is based on a disturbing, embarrassing, and confounding real-life incident involving hundreds of rotting unburied cadavers discovered in a crematory.
Whereas so many Georgia filmmakers might have used this incident as the jumping-off point for a sensationalist Zombieland-style yarn (we are Zombie central, after all), John Henry Summerour takes a matter-of-fact tone that eschews sensationalism in favor of tepid realism, embracing the story's enigmatic qualities.
It is an ambitious, accomplished debut that hands Summerour the Southern Gothic art house mantle David Gordon Green left behind when jumped the Pineapple Express to the multiplex.
On the eve of the film's theatrical debut, we caught up with Summerour to ask some questions. In the coming week, he'll be dividing his time between Atlanta and Brooklyn to appear at screenings and answer your questions. (He's slated to do a Q&A with actress Kristin Rievley at the Plaza on Saturday, December 8 at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 9 at 7:15 p.m.)
1. Give us the "elevator pitch" for Sahkanaga.
I grew up in northwest Georgia where over 300 bodies were discovered dumped on the property of a crematory in 2002. I went home and developed the film as an outreach project, imagining the story from the perspective of a teenager who finds the first body and casting local, non-professional actors in an effort to give ownership of the story back to the community....Do you like movies?....Is this your floor?
2. Working with a non-professional cast is an extremely risky strategy, especially for a debut feature. As someone who's acted professionally, and with contacts in the industry, what inspired you to use locals, many of whom had a direct tie to the actual story?
THE COLLECTION: (R) Elena thinks she is going to a secret party at an undisclosed location with her friends, but things go sour for Elena when she is kidnapped by the collector. Elena wakes up to find herself in a twisted "Saw"-esque hotel that is a maze of torture and horror. This 'Collector' is a sadistic psychopath, and when Elena's father hears of her capture he sends a group of mercenaries to retrieve her. The mercenaries turn to the help of Arkin, the only person to ever escape the clutches of the collector, to help save Elena. Facing the most horrific experience of his life again, Arkin's fate becomes tied to Elena's as it becomes clear he might not escape alive again.
HOLY MOTORS: (NR), 4 Stars. This film is an epic, genre-shifting movie that follows a man being driven around in a limousine to nine different appointments in Paris. At each of these appointments he is a completely different person, and perhaps Curt Holman put it best writing, the film "follows dream logic rather than the usual rules of film. "
KILLING THEM SOFTLY: (R) When the mob needs help, they don't turn to the police for help, they call Cogan. Played by Brad Pitt, Cogan is a smooth-talking, killer that cleans up messes when the mob can't. After a group of men try to rob a mob-protected card game, they send the entire local crime economy spinning out of control. The mob calls on Cogan for help, and its up to him and his gun to set things right in this thrilling flick.
ANNA KARENINA: (R), 3 stars, Russian author Leo Tolstoy's novel is adapted to the screen, with Jude Law and Keira Knightley. A Russian socialite, Karenina, is trapped in a loveless marriage and strays to a young attractive count. But when social circles and friends begin to shun Anna, she starts to question if her true love is worth it. UA TARA, 2345 Cheshire Bridge Road
THE BIRDS: (PG-13) Perhaps one of Hitchcock's most recognizable films, a flock of rabid birds terrorizes a small town by the bay. Classic Hitchcock, this film can justify anyone's Ornithophobia, which is the fear of birds.Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon
MIAMI CONNECTION: (NR) Martial arts-trained rock band Dragon Sound play hit 80's rock music and fight crime, and they decide they have had enough of the motorcycle ninjas that control Florida's cocaine trade. As Dragon Sound tries to put a stop to the motorcycle ninjas, this movie gets borderline absurd. The above trailer is pretty explanatory, so 80's its ridiculous.Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon
With so much talk and chatter the past two weeks focusing on the blockbuster deal between LucasFilms and the Walt Disney Company, what better time to ponder what the future of the franchise might look like in the hands of the world's greatest animation studio?
When The Walt Disney Company looks into the mirror on the wall to ask who's the fairest animation studio of them all, the answer, since 1985 invariably comes back: "Studio Ghibli." (This must be why Disney holds international rights to much of the Ghibli library.)
The brainchild of directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and the producer Toshio Suzuki, Studio Ghibli has produced seventeen feature films celebrated for their nuanced, textured, richly detailed landscapes; their vivid imagery; and their imaginative, fantastic, epic story lines. Ghibli films often feature child protagonists in allegorical stories that feature mythic figures from the spirit world interacting with the "real" world.
In addition to their status as critical darlings, Studio Ghibli's films claim eight slots on the chart of top fifteen highest-grossing anime films of all time, with Miyazaki's Spirited Away holding the top spot all films in Japan, topping James Cameron’s Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2010).
The series "The Studio Ghibli Collection" opens Friday November 9 for one week only at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, showcasing 14 features over the course of the next week all in 35mm prints, in the original Japanese with English subtitles, except where noted after the jump.
One can only imagine what future Star Wars films might look like in the hands of Miyazaki and the Ghibli team.
The Atlanta Philosophy Film Festival, now in its fourth year, is one of the region's coolest film events. Not only are the offerings free (no one ever said you can get rich from philosophy), their content is consistently challenging, offering viewers an alternative to candy-coated popcorn fare jamming up the screens at most multiplexes.
The festival describes its mission thus:
"Films have been often characterized as being essays on the human condition. In an essay, one should gather insights about the philosophy that guides the questions and attitudes of the work. Films should be no different. Film is Philosophy expressed through the medium of image- realized through light and sound. Presented and structured in such a way as to foster debate in the public and private forum.
The Atlanta Philosophy Film Festival welcomes all those films using the image median to question how we think and how we interact with the world. Films that question what it is to exist. What it is to know. What it is to love. What it means to be ethical and objective. What it is to experience. What it is to...
We welcome films aware of their role as provocateur in a world where answers are more readily available than questions. Films that use dialogue, story, image, style, tone and theme to confront our universal values and confront how we understand our experiences. Films that use ideas as a laboratory to explore the human condition.
We welcome films, that both style and content, embark on the difficult and rewarding journey towards knowledge and better understanding. Our festival is proud to exhibit the Cinema of Philosophy."
This year, the event has expanded to include two programs of films: the first, Wednesday, October 24, at 7:30 pm devoted to the topic of "Love"; and the second, on Thursday, October 25, to the topic "Society."
Films selected for this year's festival include:
Argile (eng title: Clay) by Michael Guerraz (France)
Las Batallitas Del Abuelo (eng title: My Grandfather's Tales) by Néstor Fernández (Spain)
Bendito Machine IV by Jossie Malis (Spain)
Blacktree by Maria Pia Fanigliulo (UK)
Breach by Chaotung Thomas Huang (USA)
Chuzos de Punta (eng title: Cats and Dogs) by Suda Sánchez (Spain)
Espectadores (eng title: The Spectators) by Roger Villarroya (Spain)
Inseparables (eng title: Inseparable) by Ádel Kháder (Spain)
Literalmente (eng title: Literally) by Néstor Fernández (Spain)
Naufragos (eng title: Castaways) by Mario Rico (Spain)
Non Double by Mo Hyun-Shin (South Korea)
Neukölln Berlin Wake Up Dance by Victor Meliveo (Spain)
The Conversation by Piotr Sulkowski (Poland)
There's A Dead Crow Outside by Morgan Miller (USA)
2ºA by Alfonso Díaz (Spain)
A Trois (eng title: Three) by Vanessa Clément (France)
Freud by Federico Calabuig (Spain)
Luminaris by Juan Pablo Zaramella (Argentina)
Memory by Víctor Suñer (Spain)
Parrot Peeter Aurelius by Anti Naulainen & Ando Naulainen (Estonia)
Rotos by Roberto Pérez Toledo (Spain)
Son Souffle Contre Mon Epaule (eng title: Her Breath On My Shoulders) by Noel Fuzellier (France)
Vicky And Sam by Nuno Rocha (Portugal)
Inmovil (eng title: Immobile) by Helio Mira (Spain)
La Manada (eng title: The Pack) by Mario Fernandez Alonso (Spain)
Being A Trans-Person Living In A Two-Gender Society by Petar Veljacic (UK)
The complete line-up can be found at the cleverly named website: http://atlantathinkfestival.org/festival.html
Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, however, more closely resembles a modern media celebrity. We frequently see him addressing large groups and surrounded by adoring throngs. At one point we see a group of young woman rushing up from a distance, as if they’ve just spotted The Beatles. Presented by Andy Ditzler’s Film Love series at 7:30 p.m. tonight, “Primary” shows Kennedy sitting through a make-up session for a photographic portrait and, later, reveals a group of prospective voters watching him give a speech on TV. Compared to Kennedy, Humphrey seems merely life-sized.
“Primary” offers an early example of the kind of campaign journalism that would define the coverage of the 24 hour news cycle. Director Robert Drew and cameramen Richard Leacock and Andrew Mayles used newly-invented mobile cameras and lighter sound equipment that allow them to follow the candidates through crowds and listen in on conversations in automobiles. That fly-on-the-wall perspective on campaigns would become the standard technique, and “Primary’s” editor, D.A. Pennebaker, won an Oscar for his Clinton campaign film The War Room. If “Primary” looks old-fashioned today, it’s partly because it pioneers a cinema verite approach that technological changes would greatly improve.
The new direct-to-DVD film, the 15th in the DC Animated Universe series, goes on-sale today and hurls the audience into the same sequence as the book. We find a 55 year-old Bruce Wayne (voiced by Robocop’s Peter Weller), having hung up the cowl a decade earlier, recklessly competing in an Formula One-style automobile race. In the comic book, Miller and Janson confine the competition to a single page, rendered almost entirely in tight close-ups of Bruce behind the wheel. The reader requires at least one reading to follow the rapid editing and skewed perspective on the action, which suggests the comic book equivalent of a contemporary Bourne movie.
The film, directed by Jay Olivia, offers all the conventional race images that you’d expect, with long shots and bird’s eye views of the road that emphasize bland visual clarity at the expense of the book’s off-kilter emotional intimacy. Even more strikingly, the film dispenses with Miller’s hard-boiled interior monologues, eliminating many of book’s most memorable lines and the uncomfortable implications about Bruce’s sadistic psyche. When the race ends with a fiery crash, on paper Bruce thinks, “This would be a good death... but not good enough.” The script confines itself almost entirely to the book’s spoken dialogue.
With Music Midtown occupying Piedmont Park this weekend, let's take a look at some of our favorite music and concert films, with the caveat that we're steering from the usual suspects (Last Waltz, Gimme Shelter, Don't Look Back, Ziggy Stardust, Stop Making Sense, Woodstock etc.), and opting instead for deep cuts you are not as likely to have seen already, by filmmakers making films, not promotional pieces:
Awesome I Fuckin' Shot That
When Beastie Boy Adam Yauch passed in May, I showed my fondness for this concert film writing the following:
He also oversaw what is, in my humble opinion, the greatest concert film ever: Awesome, I Fuckin' Shot That put 50 Hi8 cameras in the hands of the fans for a hometown show at MSG. (Bon Jovi did it first with Sam Kinnison handing out cameras for the "Bad Medicine" video, but did they get a shot of Ben Stiller rapping?).
The miracle is not the footage itself, but rather in the way MCA assembled it.
Rather than coming across as a stunt, the resulting film is an absolute masterpiece: a staggering, frenetic, varied, magical visual smörgåsbord, an epic display of montage that would make Dziga Vertov's head spin.
It’s kind of hard to believe that no one in Hollywood has ever made a film adaptation based on the books of local author Pearl Cleage. You’d think a movie industry that seems so starved for ideas would tap the works of Cleage, especially seeing as how her novels have repeatedly appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List — and one book (What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day) was even picked for Oprah’s high-profile Book Club. But alas, none of Cleage’s tales have made it onto the big screen ... until, perhaps, now.
A few weeks ago, Cleage and filmmaker Ayoka Chenzira (Alma’s Rainbow) announced the launch of the Pearl Cleage Film Project. The project reportedly came about from Chenzira merely asking Cleage if she could bring her novels to the screen (Cleage said “yes”). Now, the duo is slated to adapt two of Cleage’s novels: the previously mentioned What Looks like Crazy on an Ordinary Day and Babylon Sisters.
Chenzira — along with producers Dana Offenbach (MOOZ-lum) and Tandria Potts (A Cross to Bear) — and the rest of the Pearl Cleage Film Project team is currently in talks with potential investors. To learn more about the project visit, pearlcleagefilmproject.com.
As part of CL's 40th anniversary Deliverance cover story, I drove up to North Georgia and spent the afternoon with Billy Redden, who played the roll of "Banjo Boy" in the iconic "Dueling Banjos" scene from the movie. I met Billy at the Huddle House in Clayton and we drove up to Dillard and found the land where the famous scene was shot. He said he had not been there in 40 years. I also interviewed Ronny Cox, who played the roll of Drew, the character who played the guitar opposite Billy and Eric Weissberg, the session musician on the recording of "Dueling Banjos" from the movie.
Boy, what I'd pay to see www's cast emerge from a clown car. Reminds me…
I sincerely apologize for not proofreading.
They are all sociaopaths. Damn good ones at that.
Yet voters continually vote for people that actively defraud them.
Amazingly Atlanta can't even…
burrell ellis, victor hill, bill campbell, nathan deal, mitch skandalakis, kasim reed, beverly…